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How to create a balanced card game?

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Hi All,

This is my first post in this forum so bare with me if I don't know the culture just yet. :)

I'm playing with the idea of creating an online card game, like Magic the Gathering (I know, I'm not the only one in this forum thinking about it)

My main concern is not related to technology, but how to balance the game itself.

Do you guys know any good pointers to start gotchas or other good sources of knowledge for card games or turn based strategy games?
If there are any existing game system you know I'm definitely interested too!

Thanks for any thoughts!

Björn

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hello,

i am still very new to this forum as well :)

In my opinion the best way to do this, is start simple and build from there through lots of testing. Maybe you could even build an AI to test new options in a further stage. But human testing is almost always necessary i guess.

When thinking in terms of MtG, start simple. Maybe first you only create mana (lands) and creatures. Afterwards you can create enchantments and maybe abilities for creatures like Flying. When you get this working, try to expand it further with new expansions.

MtG also started way simpler than it is today. I used to play it actively a couple of years ago, but when i returned to it last month, a huge amount of new features had been added to it.

Hope this helps a bit!

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Play some existing games, decide what the key "fun" in your game needs to be, and start designing it. Then test it. Then adjust. Then test it some more. If you find that your friends get tired of testing with you, you know that you're on the wrong track. Figure out what's wrong, make a change, then find new testers. Keep iterating like that.

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Thanks guys.

Testning is a must and I really like the idea of starting simple and expanding with new features and abilities as the game grows.

Any ideas on similar games I can try?

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Any ideas on similar games I can try?


Go to the store. Toys R Us, the comic book store. A game or hobby store if there is one in your area. For this, I don't recommend shopping online.

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Shadow Era is a good example of a trading card game that has only recently (ish) found fame. If I remember correctly their initial approach was to bring out roughly 100 maybe 200 cards and then over time add to that. This would allow them to find those cards that seemed imbalanced and then tweak them before adding more to the game. The great thing about digital card games is that you can change cards post launch unlike physical card games where they often have to ban cards instead.

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I've only played yugioh and duelmasters(offline), and elements (online).

My suggestion would be to make a small amount of different factions, like colors in mtg(i've never actually played it).
2-6 factions are sufficient.Make sure they are well balanced.Many games have grossly unbalanced factions which result in the underpowered cards being unused(looking at you yugioh).

Also do you plan on making it online or physical.

Physical games should be kept pretty simple.

with an online game, you can build complex gameplay mechanics overtime.

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Start with a small set of cards and work on balancing those. Then once that system is working the way you want you can use those cards as a frame of reference for newer cards. For example if you have creatures in your game and they have a stat called strength, keep track of what card has the highest strength, and don't make a new card that surpasses it without having some major drawback.

Be careful you don't introduce too much power creep or a dominant strategy. If a strategy becomes too strong, introduce cards that are designed to counter them, but not overpowered on their own.

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Check out Spectromancer, it is a very well balanced card game. I'm pretty sure it was balanced by letting AI fight AI.

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